The IgCAM BT-IgSF (IgSF11) is essential for connexin43-mediated astrocyte-astrocyte coupling in mice


  • L. Pelz
  • L. Dossou
  • N. Kompier
  • R. Jüttner
  • G. Siemonsmeier
  • N. Meyer
  • E.D. Lowenstein
  • I. Lahmann
  • H. Kettenmann
  • C. Birchmeier
  • F.G. Rathjen


  • eNeuro


  • eNeuro


  • The type I transmembrane protein BT-IgSF is predominantly localized in the brain and testes. It belongs to the CAR subgroup of Ig cell adhesion proteins, that are hypothesized to regulate connexin expression or localization. Here, we studied the putative link between BT-IgSF and connexins in astrocytes, ependymal cells and neurons of the mouse. Global knockout of BT-IgSF caused an increase in the clustering of connexin43 (Gja1), but not of connexin30 (Gjb6), on astrocytes and ependymal cells. Additionally, knockout animals displayed reduced expression levels of connexin43 protein in the cortex and hippocampus. Importantly, analysis of biocytin spread in hippocampal or cortical slices from mature mice of either sex revealed a decrease in astrocytic cell-cell coupling in the absence of BT-IgSF. Blocking either protein biosynthesis or proteolysis showed that the lysosomal pathway increased connexin43 degradation in astrocytes. Localization of connexin43 in subcellular compartments was not impaired in astrocytes of BT-IgSF mutants. In contrast to connexin43 the localization and expression of connexin36 (Gjd2) on neurons was not affected by the absence of BT-IgSF. Overall, our data indicate that the IgCAM BT-IgSF is essential for correct gap junction-mediated astrocyte-to-astrocyte cell communication. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Astrocytes regulate a variety of physiological processes in the developing and adult brain that are essential for proper brain function. Astrocytes form extensive networks in the brain and communicate via gap junctions. Disruptions of gap junction coupling are found in several diseases such as neurodegeneration or epilepsy. Here, we demonstrate that the cell adhesion protein BT-IgSF is essential for gap junction mediated coupling between astrocytes in the cortex and hippocampus.